Benita was touring a Northern Asia country with her parents. News that morning hadn’t been positive, and should’ve given pause for thought as the family planned their day’s activities. Students at the university were expected to go on the rampage that day because they disagreed with some laws their government had implemented. The report was not a news item on TV, but word spreads and is sometimes more accurate than news media bulletins. Benita decided to do some last minute shopping anyway, and in spite of her parent’s protests, slipped away for a quick trip to the nearby shopping mall. It was unlikely she’d be repeating this tour, and there were still many things she wanted to take home with her to remind her of the trip.
All was peaceful during the shopping expedition. You can never trust gossip Benita thought to herself! She began to retrace her steps the short distance to her hotel, but on rounding the final corner a vast crowd of determined students filled the street and blocked her entry. Some laughingly took her by the arm and included her in their forward march. Benita was desperately worried, but the mood of students seemed relaxed and she began to enjoy the exhilarating feeling of being one with a crowd, and part of a cause; though she hadn’t the slightest idea what that cause was. She couldn’t understand a word of the language, but did identify with the camaraderie of the march.
As students rounded the next corner they came face to face with reality. Blocking their path was a formidable array of riot police in rather frightening outfits, each man behind metal shields carrying assault weapons. In spite of the seriousness of the situation Benita had to smile. She imagined this is what the warriors of old would have looked like in their suits of armor as they went out to battle
But the matter was very serious, and Benita suddenly felt frightened and vulnerable. Tear gas, stone throwing and hand-to-hand combat were exploding all around her, but it all seemed to move in slow motion in her mind. The girl who neither understood the cause nor the language ended that day in a foreign prison, while desperate parents cancelled their air tickets and began the anxious process of trying to locate their daughter.
As Benita sat sobbing in her prison cell trying to piece together the events of that day and discover what went wrong, she made several resolutions. If she ever got out of this mess she’d never return to this country again. That is a natural reaction given circumstances.
However if she did find her way to Asia again she’d pay more careful attention to word of mouth communications, which are a vital part of survival in this part of the world. Of course she should’ve paid more attention to her parent’s caution too, as they’d been around long enough to learn from their own mistakes.
Eventually it was all sorted out and authorities accepted Benita had been an innocent caught up in the crowd when the confrontation took place. With apologies and much bowing all around Benita and her parents headed for the airport, holding their breath until they were safely in the air, and headed east for a long flight home.
“© Copyright Ian Grice 2014 All rights reserved”